It would be very understandable for Jay Watson to want a break at this point in his psych-laden musical journey. The Tame Impala/POND multi-instrumentalist has played a crucial role in two of the most festival-filling bands of the past decade. Instead, he uses his downtime to put out records under the GUM moniker - five in almost as many years, specifically.
The creative strides made in that time have been considerable across all projects, but what Watson does in his downtime is produce more pop-focused, melodic tunes filtered through just the right about of weird. Don’t be mistaken - the synth samples remain sprawling, the guitars still bounce and swirl, journeying in an out of each song. ‘Out In The World’ is Watson’s most seamless body of work to date, an animated but dreamy relief in a world where it is hard to find it right now.
It takes a very specific kind of talent to keep songs sounding dynamic without over-complication or pretense, and a trio of songs do this very early on. ‘Airwalkin’ is joyous, and instant transportation via warped strings sampled into an addictive groove. The title track is a disco-tinged rush, packed full of beautiful beaming synths, and ‘The Thrill Of Doing It Right’ sets a cinematic scene with horns to boot.
Even when ‘Alphabet Soup’ raises the temperature of the album to its most chaotic it is no less enjoyable. A vast range of sounds filter through the brightest of synth riffs to a backdrop of drums at their most Watson’s most POND-esque.
Unlike much of the music that often falls under the ‘psych’ umbrella, ‘Out In The World’ works at the advantage of being more accessible than Watson’s other projects but no less dynamic in sound. At this point in GUM’s output it feels lazy to even call it that - ‘Out In The World’ ebbs and flows around a vast range of outside influences.
It’s an evocative rush of a listen - if Watson insists on making yet more music outside of his day job, we’re glad it’s as fun as this.
Words: Shannon McDonagh
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